Art Helps Residents Rediscover Self

“When you’re homeless, you lose your sense of self; you lose possessions, home, family, and your identity.”

Residents at OSH are so much more than the need for a roof overhead, a hot meal, or a job. Just like you, they are complicated individuals with many parts to themselves.

Now, OSH’s new Art Healing Program represents one way for us to meet residents’ holistic needs. It promotes mental and emotional health by providing creative, positive outlets for self-expression. Through this process, participants find empowerment and hope, thus increasing their ability to achieve goals of housing, employment, physical health, and education.

Thanks to a grant from the State Arts Board, professional artists from Articulture, a local arts organization, provide a weekly sanctuary where participants create personally meaningful works of art. Each session encourages reflection, both individually and as a group. Projects incorporate a variety of media, including oil pastels, watercolors, printmaking, and bookbinding.

We recently ended a 4-week series, “Parts of the Whole,” and artist-instructor Kyra Schugt shared her impressions of the experience: “The sense of community and sharing was really amazing. Each participant brought an abundance of creativity and thoughtfulness to the process. It was a joy to exchange meaningful ideas and moments of silence.”

Kyra designed the program to help participants, “honor and recover a sense of self through fun, artistic practices.” Such an opportunity is crucial for people like Toni Guyette, a resident in permanent supportive housing. At the end of one class, Toni described the activities as challenging her to dig deep and really get in touch with herself. She explained, “When you’re homeless, you lose your sense of self; you lose possessions, home, family, and your identity.”

Through the power of art, residents can now rediscover a little bit of that identity. They also receive a free art supply with each class, so by the end of the series, they’ve assembled their own kit. Even after graduating from the program, participants can continue to increase their confidence and further their healing.